Annexing the remainder of Roseland into Santa Rosa is such a complex, politically delicate undertaking that it will take at least $1.4 million just to study and nearly 4 years to complete.
That's what the City Council will hear Tuesday when city staff present it with a road map outlining all the steps needed before the 620-acre island of unincorporated land can enjoy the services most residents take for granted.
City and county leaders say they understand that some residents will be frustrated by such a lengthy process, but they stressed that there are simply no shortcuts for a project of this magnitude.
"It's not as easy as snapping your fingers and saying 'Ta Da! You're annexed,'" said Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley. "That's one of the reasons it hasn't happened to date. It has always collapsed under the weight of the task."
Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents the area, said he's encouraged by the city's efforts but hopeful the process can be accelerated.
"I think that the residents of Roseland and southwest Santa Rosa deserve a more immediate and prompt process than the four-year timeline suggested by staff," Carrillo said.
A 300-acre area at the northern end of Roseland was annexed by the city in 1997. A push in the mid-2000s to finish the job stalled in 2008 when the city and county couldn't reconcile how to fund the higher cost of police services to the area.
Last year the City Council made the annexation of the remainder of Roseland its top priority, instructing Community Development Director Chuck Regalia to come up with a game plan for how to get it done. The Oct. 22 shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff's deputy in the unincorporated Moorland Avenue neighborhood south of Roseland added urgency to the effort.
The city has since won a $647,000 planning grant aimed at focusing future growth in the southwest area around transit hubs. That planning work is expected to streamline annexation by stimulating community interest and funding studies that will be useful to both processes.
The city and the county are now "on the same page" about finding a way to make the annexation a reality, said 3rd District Supervisor Shirlee Zane.
"We know there are going to be some challenges, but it's time to roll up our sleeves and find solutions and play well together in the sandbox to really move this forward," Zane said.
The plan Regalia will outline Tuesday details four separate but interrelated efforts.
The first is the development of a Roseland Area Specific Plan, a comprehensive planning document sketching out the future growth of the 1,860-acre area of southwest Santa Rosa, including the 620 acres of Roseland that remains unincorporated.
The effort, mostly funded by the $647,000 grant, will guide future development in the densely populated area around a bus transfer center on Hearn Avenue. It will include public workshops run by consultants to engage residents in their vision of the future of their community. Properties will be rezoned to align with the new plan, and the new zoning would be consistent with the city's zoning so it could carry over following annexation.
About $400,000 of the work, particularly the zoning effort, would help pave the way for annexation. This effort, which is already underway, is expected to begin in earnest in June and last for two years.
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